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the gif is 25 years old

Ric Flair

The GIF (which I will always pronounce with a hard G, thank you very much), is 25 years old today.

I have seen animated GIF images since I first started using the internet in 1996. It was always there and have never known internet without it.

One would assume that a better image format would have appeared by now for short animations. Nope. The animated GIF, only limited to 256 colors and usually stays on the small side to keep the file size down, still reigns supreme.

Nobody uses GIFs for photos, and hardly anyone ever did. They're only used these days to make small animations with. The PNG format can in fact animate and display more than 256 colors (well more than that actually), but it never took off.

When someone gets an animated GIF just right, it's the funniest thing you've seen all day. It just takes capturing that right moment, or getting that right badly-drawn MS Paint thing going on and making a few frames, and you've got comic gold.

GIF for all intents and purposes is an internet-born thing. It's one of the very old throwbacks to late-1990s internetting that has still survived to this day because it's fun and easy for the most part.

The GIF is also very much a PC thing; it's best appreciated while on a laptop or a desktop computer because it's just not the same on a smartphone. Yes, those phones have animations all over the place, but they're done by corporations and not funny at all.

The thing about the GIF is that anyone who makes one will never see profit, never get popular (not in real life anyway) and it's done solely because it's there.

What you can take from that is that the best things on the internet are never profit-motivated and will work on any computer. This is why the GIF, IRC and forums (the free ones that is) survive. If it's free, fast and fun, it gets used and enjoyed. If not, it dies.


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